This is what planned parenthood looks like!

Posted on: April 13, 2012

(Disclaimer: views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of my own and do not represent that of anyone I might work for)

If you’ve been paying attention lately you are aware that there is a war on women.  If you are not aware, it’s time to wake up.  Republicans across the country are trying to (and have been) pass laws that tell women what they can and cannot do with their bodies.  Mostly this centers around reproductive rights.  From transvaginal ultrasound requirements before abortion in Virginia (which was changed but a law was still passed requiring an ultrasound) to telling doctors in Arizona that they can lie to their patients about the health of a fetus if they think you might get an abortion based on that information.  This is really scary stuff!  It’s like all that work that our mothers did in the 2nd wave of feminism is now turned upside down and we have to fight the same fight.  They’re even threatening access to birth control!  You know what bad men (not all men, just the bad ones and the women they’ve brainwashed) do to women in our society?  They sexualize us at a young age (have you seen the girls clothes in Wal-Mart lately or watched Toddlers and Tiaras?), pressure us into having sex before we’re ready (and the incidence of rape in our culture is outrageous), and tell schools they can only educate us about abstinence (which does not work when there is constant pressure to have sex and be sexy, but not too sexy, in order to have men’s approval or “fit in”).  Now they’re telling us we don’t have a right to access to affordable birth control, and if we get pregnant we should choose adoption (like that’s an easy choice) and if we choose abortion we’re going to hell.  If I’m going to “hell” for making my own decisions then I’ll be in good company.  As I write this a very appropriate Everlast song is playing on the radio.  See lyrics below:

“Mary got pregnant from a kid named Tom who said he was in love
He said don’t worry about a thing baby doll I’m the man you’ve been dreamin’ of
But three months later he said he won’t date her or return her call
And she sweared god damn if I find that man I’m cuttin’ off his balls
And then she heads for the clinic and she gets some static walkin’ through the doors
They call her a killer, and they call her a sinner, and they call her a whore
God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in her shoes
‘Cause then you really might know what it’s like to have to choose
Then you really might know what it’s like”

I’ve been talking about this with friends but I felt it was time to make more of a public personal statement about this whole war on women.  I’m not sure that many will read this, but I need to use my voice so here it goes.

When I turned 18 I asked my mother to help me get birth control.  I had never had sex before but I was in a committed and loving relationship with the man I knew I would marry (and I did).  I was also going off to college and I was aware of the horror stories about women getting raped in college (and in the real world too).  I now know that 1 in 4 college women will be raped in their lifetime.  Birth control won’t protect you from STD’s/STI’s, but I could at least prevent a pregnancy if something horrible happened to me.  I’m a girl scout, I like to be prepared.  So on the pill I went thanks to my supportive mother.  I was very responsible (as I was with everything else) and took my pills on time, something that was at times a challenge given that all kinds of stuff happens in college to distract you.  I managed not to get pregnant until I was ready.

I finished my B.S. and M.A., got married, and got a job.  After working and being married a three years my husband and I decided we were ready to have kids.  We made an appointment with my OB/GYN just to get some information on the whole process and things we could do to prepare.  We obviously knew sex was the way to get pregnant, but I wanted information on prenatal vitamins, how long we should try before we worried if it didn’t work, etc…  Turns out that within a month of that meeting I got pregnant!  We were sooo excited!  We posted a picture of FB of us holding a little Led Zeppelin onesie.  We used that same onesie to tell our families the good news.  I made my appointment with my OB/GYN to get an ultrasound at 6 weeks to confirm pregnancy and to make sure everything looked good. 

That’s when things started going down hill.  I started to have spotting before my first appointment.  I called my OB/GYN and they brought me in to see my midwife Sharon.  She told me spotting was normal but that they would check me out to make sure everything was ok.  The urine test came back positive but it was light so they were thinking it was just because I was very early.  I hadn’t had any pains in my side so they were thinking it wasn’t an ectopic pregnancy.  However, they couldn’t pic up a sac in my utuerus with the ultrasound.  They sent me to get a blood tests (which I am NOT a fan of…I pass out easily) a couple days apart to see what my HCG levels were and if they doubled/tripled which would mean my pregnancy was progressing as it should.  Well the numbers only went up a little bit so I had to get a few of these blood tests.  They called me in for another ultrasound after about 4 blood draws to see if they could pic up the sac.  They said they were worried I might have an ectopic pregnancy (stuck in my fallopian tube).

Sure enough, the fertilized egg/fetus got stuck in my right fallopian tube.  If it were to stay there it would get bigger and basically explode in my tube.  That meant serious health risks and the possibility of not being able to use that whole side of eggs for future pregnancies.  Thank goodness I was so on top of things because with me being so early on I was able to get a shot which would eventually expel the pregnancy and I would not need surgery.  If I were further along I would need surgery and other really scary things could happen like death.  While I was at the dr’s office I think I was in shock/numb and just going through the motions.  I knew what I had to do and I trusted my doctors.  They took very good care of me.  I was able to hold in my emotions until I was at home.  I was so disappointed!  Bill and I had planned this pregnancy and did everything by the book.  Things like this just happen.  Ectopic pregnancy is pretty common (as is miscarriage) but most women don’t know about it.  That’s why it’s so dangerous.  Thank goodness I have good insurance that paid for me to get done what needed to be done to save my life and that of my future children.  If Republicans had their way, I would not have had access to that shot and would probably be sterile or maybe dead as a result.  I read a story about a woman this morning who was 22 weeks and her water broke and because of the laws Republicans had passed her doctor could not deliver or abort even though she had an infection.  She had to wait 10 days to deliver on her own and then watch her baby (which she had planned and wanted) gasp for air and die.  This resulted in her not being able to have children in the future because of an infection.  I can’t even imagine the pain that must have caused her.

I had a few days of really painful cramps as my body and the medicine did their job of expelling the sac.  My mom came and stayed with me and took care of me while Bill was at work.  Otherwise Bill was taking good care of me.  He really was wonderful through the whole process.  Work was wonderful too.  They gave me the time off that I needed to heal.  I blogged about the whole experience and found that several of my friends had a loss as well.  They talked to me about it and really appreciated that I was putting my story out there so other women could see it wasn’t taboo to talk about.  Knowing you’ve got folks in the boat with you is a comforting feeling.  I am very aware that there are many women that aren’t as lucky as I was.  There are women who don’t have health insurance or supportive spouses or bosses.  We need to change our culture so that all women are able to have access to good health care and time off from work to heal.  We also need to hold men responsible for their part in the reproductive process.

A month or so later Bill and I announced that I was pregnant again.  I didn’t wait until I was out of the first trimester like many folks tell you to.  If something was going to happen again, I was going to talk about it because it was healing for me and also for other women.  That time I made it through the whole pregnancy and now have an amazing three year old son Jackson.  He’s so loving and smart and curious and a huge joy in my life.  After Jackson was born I got an IUD for birth control at my 6 week checkup (thank you insurance).  I didn’t have to think about taking a pill everyday and I couldn’t feel the IUD in my uterus.  It’s a great option!  A couple years later when we were ready for our second child I made an appointment with my OB/GYN to get my IUD removed so we could try for baby #2.  A few weeks later I was pregnant! 

I’m now 7 months pregnant with our second child and looking forward to the joy this one will bring to our little family.  This is what planned parenthood looks like.  Bill and I decided as a team when we would have kids given both of our academic and professional goals.  We were responsible and luckily had access to birth control which is only 99% effective but we managed not to have any slip-ups.  I was able to survive an ectopic pregnancy because I have health care providers that care about my well being and don’t have an anti-woman/anti-choice agenda.  Now Republicans are trying to strip away these basic rights and it is detrimental to the health of women, children and our society as a whole.

If you have not been previously paying attention then I encourage you to do so.  If you have a story that you’d like to share about how having the basic right to choose your reproductive health care has helped you, then I encourage you to do so.  Use your voice!  If we don’t, they will certainly take it away from us.  Republicans are nostalgic for the days when women were barefoot and pregnant housewives who had no academic or professional goals.  There are still women today who are stay at home mothers and housewives but that is their choice and I commend them for it because it is hard work.  Women have come to far and fought to hard to go back to a time when we had no choices.  We make an amazing contribution to society and they haven’t seen all that we’re capable of.  I believe women are the answer to a peaceful world and we can’t reach our full potential (or the full potential of our society) until we quash their war on us and secure our basic rights.  We can do this with our voice so speak up and get organized!  There are plenty of groups out there supporting women’s rights that you can support and get involved in.  Believe in yourself and your inner strength.  Don’t let them take us backwards.  We are worth more than that.  Let me hear your voices!


6 Responses to "This is what planned parenthood looks like!"

well said, gretchen. i just may have to do my own. 😀

Wonderful, Gretchen – thank you so much for your voice, your story and your vision – this war is hell and I am blessed to be in the trenches with you. Rx

Thanks for sharing your story, Gretchen. By posting, you will, more than likely, help those that think they are alone in going through similar experiences. I also applaud you for speaking out against the Republican machine attempting to take away our rights, one state at a time. This is a scary reality that is taking currently taking place and seems to be gaining momentum. Peace to you & your family

Gretchen! thank you for sharing your story 🙂 women will not back down and give up and the people who want to deny us our basis health rights know this.

When I had my second child, I was 35 years old and considered “advanced maternal age” which meant my eggs were considered old in the eyes of obstetrics. I felt like this was false because I know so many women, my age, who went to grad school and then had a career first, before having a family. The
Genetic Counselor that I was referred to assured me I was wrong as the majority of women, having babies, we’re in their early 20s. I went through countless genetic tests, which I failed every time and was told my daughter had a higher chance of having Downs, than most babies being born to women my age. After numerous
Blood and ultrasounds, I had an amniocentesis and the lab in New Mexico lost results! I had to wait seven days for them to locate my results, which proved what I knew all along, that my daughter was healthy. Too old my ass! When my first child was born, I quit my full time job and went to work part time. The decision was based on my longing as a child to have my mom home when I was little. She was a single mom and we lived with my grandparents, my grandmother watched me while my mom was at work. I didn’t understand this as a young child. All my friends moms stayed home, I was stuck with my grandmother (I’m very grateful for now). When my second child was born, I quit my part time job because it was too much for my mom and mother-in-law to keep the kids while I was gone a few hours everyday. Being a stay at home mom is hard work, more than I ever imagined. There are days that I don’t get a shower, to be honest, there are long periods where I go without because the kids won’t nap and I’m too tired at night. I run around to gymnastics, soccer, OT, and my son goes to Montessori so no bus service. I’m the taxi, chef, house keeper, teacher (I would homeschool if I had the energy) and somewhere I have to find time for me and my husband. It’s hard work but I don’t want strangers raising my kids an I’m strict when it comes to certain parenting and schooling principals. All in all, I would never want my rights or that of other women taken away and for modern medicine to call me old at 35, to carry a child, is unfair and degrading. As I write this, Brooke is asleep in the car, I’m picking Noah up at school, and we have a full day ahead of us, but I love it! O and I need to pick up my BC pills because I’m done with being pregnant!

Fantastic! Thanks for sharing your perspective Wendi! I know plenty of women who had their babies in their 30’s. Ridiculous that modern medicines tells us things we know instinctively not to be true. We need to move to trusting women. This is why I love my midwives!

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